Man in the Street or Hand Over Mouth

By Heather McHugh b. 1948 Heather McHugh
He claps a hand
Across the gaping hole—

Or else the sight might
Well inside to

Melt the mind—if any
Thinking spoke

Were in the wheel,
Or any real

Fright-fragments broke
Out of the gorge to

Soak the breast, the meaning
Might incite a stroke—best

Press against it, close
The clawhole, stand

In stupor, petrified. The dream
Be damned, the deeps defied.

The hand’s to keep
The scream inside.

Heather McHugh, “Man in the Street or Hand Over Mouth” from The American Scholar. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: The American Scholar (University of Washington Press, 2006)

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Poet Heather McHugh b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

 Heather  McHugh

Biography

Poet Heather McHugh’s work is noted for its rhetorical gestures, sharp puns and interest in the materials of language itself—her self-described determination is “to follow every surge of language, every scrap and flotsam.” Describing her work in the Boston Review, poet and critic Richard Howard alleged that “most of McHugh’s poems end in a spurt, as they proceed in a slather, of just such astonishment as is bestowed—afforded—by . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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